wish2wish

By: Naomi Benenson

Human Rights , Techie

Myopic personalities tend to dominate the outcomes for an entire group of people. Crossing your fingers and hoping that your voice will be heard is not effective... or is it?

I created a simple app where people can anonymously post their opinions. Not only does the anonymity relieve the stress of peer pressure, but it also democratizes the support of an idea by letting other users “cross fingers” to arrive at a collective decision. Unlike other social media platforms, wish2wish does not require anyone to give up personal information. They can simply share their desires and start wishing and responding right away, without worry about followers or information leakers.

I believe wish2wish can break through the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 Rule), so that 20% of a group will no longer be dominating the decision making 80% of the time. As a result, valuable contributions can be made by ALL group members.

Initially, my idea was to create a virtual ballot, however, as development progressed, I drew inspiration from the knowledge I gained at Hebrew school, realizing that ‘Wish2Wish’ could be used to spread tikkun olam in local communities and the world at large. Tikkun olam literally means "world repair" and has become synonomous with "the pursuit of social justice."

My app encourages people to find, discover and support the dreams of others. We used the imagery of "keeping your fingers crossed" because it is a common expression of hope, and I thought that it would be natural to use this gesture to show support for a peer's wish.

I've always dreamed of a world where kindness and compassion guide our decisions. Where good ideas have a chance to be heard. Where collective will has real meaning.

When I was seven years old, I joined a competitive dance company. I witnessed first hand how hard it was for everyone to agree on simple things like: which costumes should be used, the color of our leotards, the brand of shoes... People get emotional, and the discussions escalate into arguments with the outcome often not reflecting what the majority of us wanted in the first place.

wish2wish gives users the ability to ask important questions, and receive votes and feedback from a global audience. Released in the summer of 2015, my app has already experienced fast growth with over 1,200 downloads across 58 countries. 

For example, we had people in Tanzania give a congratulatory shout-out to Samia Suluhui for becoming the first female vice president.

More than just democratizing decisions, wish2wish is capturing opinions and dreams.

For example, people could wish for their love interests.

As more people join the wish2wish community, I hope it will gain enough force to change many lives for the better, giving people a platform to facilitate the pace of positive change.

Team Members

  • Naomi Benenson

    Chief Dreamer

    I dance, dream and want people to be able to freely express themselves, learn which wishes represent their views, and through this process support what matters to them. It is my hope that one day I will find a partner who shares my vision for wish2wish and will work with me to implement new features for the world to use!

Impact

How wish2wish works

Jan. 8, 2016

wish2wish is a real-time, location-based platform. When people open the app, they see the posts made near them. If they wish to see what people around the world are saying, people can  zoom out to global levels. The location functionality is crucial to the purpose of the app - showing people what is most relevant to them in their local area.

"Keeping fingers crossed" is an expression of hope and support for a wish. That is how users of the app respond to a post that resonates with them. There are two additional expressions: one for gratitude (Tip of the Hat) and one for disapproval (Wag of the Finger). Within the app, users can purchase Tips/Wags to boost the visibility of a post that matters to them. We hope to communicate to our users that the revenue from Tips/Wags sales will be channelled back to support the wish2wish community by fulfilling selected wishes.

The app was created with sponsorship opportunities in mind. It could be used to market new products and provide various incentives to wish2wish users.

I could not have launched my project without my AWESOME ‘crew of hopeless optimists.’ It was so cool and rewarding to work with such talented people. I also want to thank my amazing family for their love and support and my friends for helping me alpha test the app.

I’m also profoundly grateful for open source technologies. They enable tinkers’ like me to develop apps that are as advanced as Facebook and Twitter. Specifically, Ruby on Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson, Elasticsearch founder Shay Banon, and MongoDB creators Kevin P. Ryan and Dwight Merriman. I want to thank companies like GitHub, Ansible, Basecamp, Trello, Stackoverflow, and Quora who offer incredible tools and services for for free or a small price. I’m hosting wish2wish on Google Compute Engine, although it’s not free it costs less than competition.

I draw my inspiration from Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, who taught me that determination and an optimistic outlook can help anyone accomplish their dreams.

CTeen Social Media Director

Sept. 9, 2015

I am excited to announce that I have been selected as the Social Media Director for Chabad of Hunterdon County's Teen Network (CTeen). In this role I will contribute my knowledge of social media and technology and share my excitement for Judasism with my CTeen community.

CTeen teaches teens critical leadership skills, putting power in the hands of the teens themselves. Through creative thinking, social responsibility and community engagement, CTeen provides Hunterdon County teens a unique opportunity to create and implement community service initiatives and charity fundraisers.

Last year, CTeen members volunteered to pack holiday packages at United Way of Hunterdon, performed for patients at Hunterdon Care Center and Rolling Hills Care Center, learned about those with developmental disabilities at the Arc of Hunterdon, and cleaned a hiking trail at Round Valley Reservoir. 

surprising similarities between app development and dance

Aug. 26, 2015

I wrote a piece for women2.0 describing the similarities I discovered between app development and dancing.

  • THE BREAK DOWN

Learning dance choreography always starts with breaking down the movement. I applied this approach to every stage of app development. The first step was visualizing the app. Then I created a flow chart (aka wireframes). From there, I started working with a graphics designer. Step by step, we figured out how every screen, every button, every transition would look like. Spending extra time on the design paid off because developers could clearly see what had to be done.

  • THE AUDITION

The auditioning process is a part of every dance competition and for a place in coveted shows, the casting call is a must. In a rigorous environment under very high pressure, dancers are individually judged. I’ve been a part of this process since the age of seven, and that made me comfortable interviewing software engineers and assessing their abilities. I was always told that confidence is key. But when it came to hiring developers, those who were the most inquisitive about the technical details were the most qualified for the job.

  • THE MOTIVATION

The rehearsal process is grueling; it demands a lot of time, commitment and dedication. Strong motivation is what helps the dance come together and create a beautiful work of art. I would frequently talk to my team about the premise of the app, and that was very motivational because the app itself aims to be an instrument to inspire people to be a part of a positive change.

  • THE COMMUNICATION & CHOREOGRAPHY

In many ways software development parallels a group dance: No matter how talented the dancers are, without a choreographer it won’t ever come together. My biggest challenge when developing the app was encouraging communication between software developers. I had to be actively involved; asking questions, facilitating communication and resolving disputes between server and front-end developers.

  • OPENING NIGHT

When I performed in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, I couldn’t understand why such an iconic show needed so much advertising. Ads were plastered all over the city on buses, taxi cabs, and bulletin boards. It was an exciting day for me to see my app released on the App Store and Google Play, although there was no opening night party. Only now do I understand why even an iconic New York City institution needs to constantly remind people of its existence. Perhaps, the wish2wish app is in fact like a Broadway show — I just have to find a way to let the world know of its existence.

In many ways software development parallels a group dance: no matter how talented the dancers are, without a choreographer it won’t ever come together.

IdeaMensch

Aug. 19, 2015

I contemplated the development of wish2wish over 2 years. First I started by sketching and doodling different ideas. I'd wake up at 5am each morning to work on the project before my school day officially began. I'd go over basecamp comments, Trello tickets and Skype with each developer, discussing the issues and assessing the progress. I use Google Calendar to organize my life.

Once I had my idea solidified, I emailed hundreds of developers and designers. The majority turned me down. I think my age was a factor. At first, I was hiring those who appeared most assertive. This turned out to be a mistake. In my experience,. developers who are inquisitive and take time to formulate answers are the most productive.

Read the full IdeaMensch interview here.

my wish is to be an entrepreneur

Nov. 19, 2014

 

(and yes, dance!)


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